Molalla vet honored for animal care
Dr. Tom Holechek from South Clackamas Veterinary Service in Molalla recently received the Animal Welfare Award from the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association.
The OVMA's Animal Welfare Award recognizes a veterinarian who has demonstrated outstanding compassion and/or developed programs for the welfare of animals.
According to Dr. Andrea Duvall, who nominated her colleague for this award, Holechek is an unsung hero in the dairy industry.
"Dr. Holechek's work is important to the Molalla community," Duvall said. "Initially, the building of South Clackamas Veterinary Services was purchased as an office for the dairy practice. In February of 1990, people began to knock on the door requesting small animal services (the building was previously a small animal clinic several years prior). Since this time, Dr. Holechek has built a flourishing mixed animal practice serving the Molalla community with the motto of 'quality, affordability and availability.' His kind, compassionate care for the cows carries through to the small animal practice."
Unconcerned with bucking tradition, he doesn't hesitate to challenge the dairy industry to do better – always advocating for the health and welfare of the cows ahead of production results. At his mixed animal clinic in Molalla, Holechek spends time educating and training dairy workers on proper care and welfare – in part to reach the best yield of milk, but also to provide the cows with better and healthier lives.
"The core of his dairy practice is stress avoidance for the cows: teaching the dairies the concept of kindness, compassion, nutrition and cleanliness has been his life's work of 39 years," Duvall said.
The doctor also noticed that the cows under his care were injuring themselves as they navigated inadequate sized stalls – and that their stress level seemed to increase while in a confined space. He insisted that the dairies he worked with enlarge the stalls, which resulted in fewer injuries, less stress, and better milk production. He became an advocate for individual hutches for calves. By sequestering each calf, he could better monitor and manage their development and identify illnesses quicker.
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